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California Burrito - San Diego entity or beyond?

I stopped by my local favorite cheap taqueria on the way home from work tonight; Palomino's #2 at Clairmont Mesa Blvd. and Ruffin Road. Ordered something different for me: a California burrito. What I get is a huge Sunday-edition burrito with carne asada, french fries, cheese, salsa, sour cream. I was a little afraid at first (could just see the HDL and LDL battling for positions in my bloodstream), but dug in. It was great! Maybe because I was dead tired from office and needed a comfort-food fix, but it was fresh and piping-hot and very filling of course.

So has anyone had CA burritos from other places that are similar, are they carne asada fries wrapped up in a flour tortilla? It reminded me of my HSO's home-cooking Lomo Saltado, Peruvian steak strips with fries, only without the gravy. I would love to sample other restaurant versions, any recommendations or comments?

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  1. I think all of the -berto's offer them.

    1. I like the one from Santana's.

      1. It's pretty much a S.D. thing. Make sure you get your next one with avocado. Amps up the taste sensations.

        1. Try the one from Santana's and add guacamole (and/or sour cream). I've found that the quality can vary from location to location and from time to time. I've had the best luck at the Pt. Loma location and not so good luck at the Morena Blvd. and the new College area location.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sdrey

            The old Morena location (next to the circle K) used to have excellent CA burritos. However, since they closed that location the one down the street is not nearly as good. I've been going to the PB location ever since (but the quality is still not up to par as the original Morena location). I might have to give the Pt Loma one a try.

            1. re: mliew

              I just heard from a friend that the original Santana's on Morena has reopened. Their website seems to confirm as well. Hopefully the quality is the same as it used to be. I'll have to check it out sometime.

          2. I've had on at Roberto's. DISGUSTING.

            Has one at Super Sergio''s on Convoy. It was better, but nothing extraordinary.

            Still searching for a good one.

            5 Replies
            1. re: young_chower

              I'm not really a fan of the California burrito. They're always greasy, heavy, and coma-inducing.

              1. re: Josh

                But what's wrong with them?

                1. re: ricepad

                  There was a movie out about a decade ago "Eating" about women and their relationships with food. One scene was an interview about guilty food pleasures. This would definitely qualify for that category. It was very tasty, only ate one-half, but then had the rest for breakfast...

                2. re: Josh

                  I agree, Josh. I find them a bit much, and I only made it halfway through the only one I've tried. You want something greasy, heavy, and coma-inducing? Try Carne Asada fries. I'm thinkin' this isn't a good claim-to-fame for San Diego!

                  1. re: phee

                    As a Mexican Quasi Purist-Snob... I look down upon Burritos & their fans... but I have to admit that I succumb to their McFoodish tempation... every so often. When I do... I usually split a Burrito (might as well go over the top with all the extras).

                    At Tacomiendo in L.A.... I have been know to get 4 meals out of their humongous Burrito which I suplement with Green Salad, Beans & Tropical Fruits.

                    You know you don't have to eat the whole thing, right?

              2. Okay, so the bertos do offer them. HOWEVER, this is a more recent innovation.

                When I lived in San Diego (Apr 91 - June 93) there was no such thing as a California Burrito. When I visited last (in 2001) it seemed ubiquitous.

                Does anyone know when/where it originated?

                1. I believe Santana's in the Morena District claims to be the home of the California Burrito. I'm both a burrito fan and a Californian, but dislike California Burritos.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Fake Name

                    I also believe Santana's originated the California Burrito. IMHO, a CA Burrito is a bit much and despite it's recent popularity, I still consider a Carne Asada Burrrito (with no rice or beans) as San Diego's signature street food.

                  2. I love the California burrito. I have chowed it at numerous SD taco stands. My favorite is a place in Oceanside named Diegos on coast highway. They put carne asada and fries with pico and i add guac on the side. i get it in the side so the cheese has a chance to melt, cuz melted cheese is mo betta. Here is the kicker, they make their own homemade fries! I always ask for the fries to be cooked crispy. I am successful in that move 75% of the time. For some reason the limp fry is popular in the taco stands.

                    If you are looking for Diegos on coast highway set your sights on a hideously painted building on the east side of the street.

                    1. The california burrito exists as far North as Sacramento. At least at Oscar's on Freeport it does. Actually the carne asado is steak but it includes french fries which in my humble opinion is the selling point.

                      1. Filiberto's near La Mesa has the best California burritos ever, I don't live there anymore but I swear if i had the money i would fly from boston to there just for that burrito

                        1. Here is my "official" account of what a true California Burrito is. Let me know your thoughts http://unomos.blogspot.com/2009/10/ca...

                          1. I love the California at Taco Surf in Pacific Beach.

                            1. First of all...despite all of it's negligent health affects...I am a devoted believer that one has not live have they not tried a California Burrito. There is an aphrodesial affect as the arteries slowly clog and the blood slowly starts to coagulate within your own veins. Man are they good. If one wiki's a california burrito, it credits the origination to Santana's as well, back in 1987 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito).

                              I used to love Esther's by SDSU (it is now Trujillo's though don't know if it is as good). My Custom Cali burrito? I'd get the standard Cali (Carne asada, fries, cheese, sometimes guac and SC) and I would add rice and enchilada sauce (inside the burrito, not on top). Of course it you ate the whole thing, you pay for it a week to come...but totally worth it : )

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: csils

                                The Santana's reference on wiki was backed out today.

                              2. Me and my friends prefer the places that make the CA burrito with fried potato chunks, not fries. But since I rarely order them I can't think of a place that I like. Nicos in Carmel Valley I think makes it that way

                                1. next time, even try skipping the flour tortilla and go for the carne asada fries! guac included.

                                  1. I know California burritos have been around for a while but I honestly don't know where they came from or who invented them. Around 1990 they were pretty rare here in San Diego but you'd find them on the central coast and in east bay locations like Berkley so I don't think they were invented in San Diego. Of course, the bay area is more known for inventing the Mission style burrito so who really knows where the California burrito came from?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: oerdin

                                      I am going with San Diego as the inventor.

                                      We need more things to call our own.

                                      Tie goes to San Diego.